DRAWING ON HER RECENT EDITED VOLUME, Work and the Welfare State, Brodkin discusses two developments affecting contemporary welfare state politics: the advance of workfare-style policies in an increasing number of countries and a distinct, but related, transnational project of governance reform that targets street-level organizations (SLOs). Evidence from international studies shows how, together, these initiatives are pushing back against the welfare state’s equalizing capacities and intensifying the precariousness of life for those at the economic margins.
While democratic welfare states arguably constitute one of the great developments of modern society, Brodkin’s work shows how, to varying degrees, they remain deeply contested, subject to changing economic and political conditions and demands. These contests occur on multiple levels, some of the most visible and well-observed occurring around legislative battles over social policy. Critically important, but less well-observed, are political contests that occur indirectly, taking place in the opaque spaces between formal policy provisions and the social outcomes that result, spaces in which the essential work of the welfare state takes place. It is in these spaces that SLOs play a crucial role in mediating inequality, both as shapers of policy and politics and as key points of interaction between the state and those who are disadvantaged, marginalized, or unemployed.
“In many countries, the move toward workfare and activation has been accompanied by new managerial strategies, among them devolution, privatization, contracting, and performance measurement. These strategies are now deeply embedded in the arrangements through which policy is delivered in the United States, and they are becoming much more familiar in European countries, as well. They have been widely adopted, even in countries that traditionally relied on "old public management'' strategies of hierarchy and control and on large state bureaucracies for the delivery of social policy. Where public bureaucracies continue to play a dominant role, they, too, have become the targets of managerial reform. Managerial and workfare reforms have become closely intertwined, a development largely unexplored in policy- and state-focused studies. It is important to recognize a new welfare state project of ‘triple activation,’ which reaches beyond the unemployed individuals who are policy's official subjects, to the organizations which are policy's implementers, and down to the street-level staff who are po1icy's putative producers.” -- From “Introduction,” Work and the Welfare State (2013)
EVELYN BRODKIN is Associate Professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. A scholar of public policy and management, she examines the history, experiences, and contradictions of U.S. efforts to address poverty and inequality. Her research investigates political conflicts over social policy, how street-level organizations mediate policy and politics, and, the spread of workfare-style arrangements around the world. She takes up these issues in her co-edited book, Work and the Welfare State: Street-Level Organizations and Workfare Politics (2013), which investigates the politics and practices of the workfare in six countries. In addition, research examining the street-level organizations that bring policy to people has led to a series of publications, including, "Reflections on Street-Level Bureaucracy: Past, Present, and Future" (Public Administration Review, 2012) and a special symposium, "Putting Street-Level Organizations First: New Directions for Research" (Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 2011). Beyond its impact on scholarship, Brodkin's research has contributed to social welfare advocacy, policymaking, and practice. She has been invited to speak on her policy and organizational research in Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the UK.
POVERTY IN EUROPEAN MEDITERRANEAN COUNTRIES has long been widespread, and policies to combat it scarce. Given its embededness in family and community, however, it has also been less marginalized and stigmatized than in many other societies, making it what French sociologist Serge Paugam has termed “integrated poverty.” In this talk, Professor Saraceno argues that changing social and cultural conditions in Mediterranean Europe have transformed the experience of poverty. While it is still widespread, family-centered, and geographically concentrated, cultural reference groups and aspirations have become more de-localized, strengthening the perception of injustice and misfortune, while family solidarity is increasingly under stress. At the same time, income support measures have been implemented so that, in order to receive support, the poor must increasingly give up their rights as citizens and adults, agreeing to be told what their needs are and how they should behave. So, while Mediterreanean poverty remains distinctive, it increasingly involves the experiences of marginality and denigration typical of other areas.
CHIARA SARACENO is Professor Emerita at the Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) and an Honorary Fellow at the Collegio Carlo Alberto in Turin. She is an internationally recognized sociologist who focuses on the dynamics of family change in Italy, as well as comparative gender patterns and social policies regarding the family in Europe and beyond. She also works on poverty and anti-poverty policies in a comparative perspective. Among her recent publications are Il Welfare, il Mulino (2013); I nuovi poveri (2011); Conciliare famiglia e lavoro (with Manuela Naldini) (2011); “Towards an integrated approach for the analysis of gender equity in policies supporting paid work and care responsibilities” (with W. Keck), Demographic Research (2011); “Social inequalities in facing old-age dependency: a bi-generational perspective,” Journal of European Social Policy (2010); and “Can we identify intergenerational policy regimes in Europe?” (with W. Keck), European Societies (2010). Together with J. Lewis and A. Leira, she edited the collection Families and Family Policies (2012).
FOR MORE THAN THREE DECADES, the policies that set the menu of opportunities and obstacles for poor and near-poor Americans have operated on false premises. Federal programs have assumed that low-income people face few barriers in searching out opportunities and exercising choice in the free market, even as state and local policymakers have created numerous spatial barriers that have made employment, social services, and other opportunities costly, difficult, or impossible to access. Moreover, federal policies have ignored the need to build supportive institutions to assist low-income Americans, assuming that private organizations will emerge when and where new needs appear. But dwindling federal funds, local indifference, and weak local capacities have meant that organizations designed to assist low-income people are overburdened, poorly located, or simply do not exist. Drawing on the cases of Chicago and Atlanta, as well as on national data on nonprofit organizations, Weir considers the disjuncture between federal programs directed at low-income people and the local spatial barriers that confront them.
"In what ways does the increased presence of the poor in suburbs present new opportunities for upward mobility? Depending on the organization of public authority, the suburban poor may benefit from better services (this was part of the argument in favor of deconcentrating the poor.) For, example, when low income students attend middle class suburban schools, they are more likely to improve their academic achievement (Kahlenberg 2003). Yet, as suburbs become more economically and socially diverse, there is some evidence that they create new mechanisms of separation – e.g. newly incorporated cities (e.g. Sandy Springs, GA) or the erosion of county-wide school systems with charter schools. The beneficial mixing that exists in some suburbs may be temporary as even exurban areas experience white flight." -- From "The Politics of Spatial Inequality"
MARGARET WEIR is Professor of Sociology and Political Science and Avice M. Saint Chair in Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. She has written widely on the politics of social policy and inequality in the United States and Europe. Her publications include “Collaboration is Not Enough” (with Jane Rongerude and Chris Ansell) in Urban Affairs Review (2009), “The Long Shadow of the Past: Risk Pooling and the Political Development of Health Care Reform in the States” (with Anthony Chen) in Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law (2009) and “States, Race, and the Decline of New Deal Liberalism” in Studies in American Political Development (2005). She is the author of Politics and Jobs: The Boundaries of Employment Policy in the United States (1992) and (with Ira Katznelson), Schooling for All: Class, Race and the Decline of the Democratic Ideal (1992). Her edited volumes include The Social Divide: Political Parties and the Future of Activist Government (1998) and (with Ann Shola Orloff and Theda Skocpol), The Politics of Social Policy in the United States (1988). Weir was chair of the MacArthur Foundation Network on Building Resilient Regions from 2006-2014.
GROWING UP IN HIGH-POVERTY NEIGHBORHOODS has severe consequences for child development. Sharkey argues that exposure to violent crime is a central reason for this, as indicated by several studies designed to identify the causal effect of exposure to specific incidents of violence on children’s cognitive functioning and academic performance. In this light, what does the two-decade long drop in violent crime in the U.S. mean to those growing up in high-poverty neighborhoods? Sharkey examines evidence showing where violence has declined and where it has not, and seeks in ongoing research to determine whether the crime decline has reduced childhood inequality in America and whether it has changed the meaning of urban poverty.
“Comparing African American children living in Chicago to peers living in the same neighborhoods but assessed at different times, Sharkey (2010) found that children perform substantially worse on cognitive skills assessments if they are given the assessments in the immediate period of four to seven days following a local homicide that occurred near the home. The effect was strongest when the homicide occurred in the block group in which the child lived, weaker if it occurred in the census tract, and weaker still if it occurred in the larger neighborhood cluster, which was measured as a cluster of contiguous tracts. The pattern showing decaying effects of local violence suggests that the mechanism leading to impaired cognitive functioning likely involves the stress, shock, trauma, or fear experienced by individual children who are exposed to or made aware of extreme violence close to home.” -- From "Where, When,Why, and For Whom Do Residential Contexts Matter? Moving Away from the Dichotomous Understanding of Neighborhood Effects" (co-authored with Jacob W. Faber)
PATRICK SHARKEY is an Associate Professor of Sociology at New York University. His highly praised book, Stuck in Place:Urban Neighborhoods and the End of Progress toward Racial Equality (2013) describes how, four decades after the high hopes of the Civil Rights Movement, the degree of racial inequality has barely changed. To understand what went wrong, he argues that we have to understand what has happened to African American communities over the last several decades and how political decisions and social policies have led to severe disinvestment from black neighborhoods, persistent segregation, declining economic opportunities, and a growing link between African American communities and the criminal justice system. Ultimately, he advocates urban policies that have the potential to create transformative and sustained changes in urban communities and the families that live within them, and he outlines a durable urban policy agenda to move in that direction.
BETWEEN NOVEMBER 1963, WHEN HE BECAME PRESIDENT, and November 1966, when his party was routed in the midterm elections, Lyndon Johnson spearheaded “The Great Society,” the most transformative agenda in American political history since the New Deal. Contrary to the conventional understanding that this was an unprecedented “liberal hour” in America, a moment, after Kennedy’s death, when the seas parted and Johnson could simply stroll through to victory, Professor Zelizer argues that Johnson’s legislative program faced bitter resistance, and that was the election of 1964 and burgeoning civil rights movement transformed conditions on Capitol Hill and made Congress receptive to passing the legislation in a short period of time.
Though our politics have changed, the heart of the Great Society legislation remains intact fifty years later. In fact, Zelizer argues, the Great Society shifted the American political center of gravity—and our social landscape—decisively to the left in many crucial respects. In a very real sense, we are living today in the country that Johnson and his Congress made.
"I believe in the power of institutions—Congress, public policy, certain ideas about politics—that last for a long time. I don’t believe that we recreate the political playing field very often in this country. I don’t believe presidential elections usually have transformative power or that scandals or moments of reform remake the political playing field. When I tell my students about history and when I write about history, I’m always interested in the limitations of change and try to understand all the constraints that Congress and the president face and how they try to move beyond them and how much weight the past has on any given moment." -- Julian Zelizer, in an interview on The Daily Beast
"The emphasis [of The Fierce Urgency of Now] falls on the high, and sometimes low, workings of legislative government, as bills inched through committees and subcommittees, nicked and scarred in “mark-up” sessions; the feint-and-parry of parliamentary maneuver; and, above all, the votes. This patient no-frills approach offers illuminations that a more cinematic treatment might not. And if Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton, at times betrays the head-counting instincts of a House whip, well, head-counting is the nuts and bolts of congressional lawmaking." -- Sam Tanenhaus, describing Zelizer's book in the New Yorker
JULIAN ZELIZER is a Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University. He has been one of the pioneers in the revival of American political history. He is the author of Taxing America: Wilbur D. Mills, Congress, and the State, 1945-1975 (1998), On Capitol Hill: The Struggle to Reform Congress and its Consequences, 1948-2000 (2004), Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National Security – From World War II to the War on Terrorism (2010), and Conservatives in Power: The Reagan Years, 1981-1989 (2010). In addition to his scholarly articles and book chapters, Zelizer is a frequent commentator in the international and national media on political history and contemporary politics. He has published over four hundred op-eds, including his weekly column on CNN.Com. He has received fellowships from the Brookings Institution, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Russell Sage Foundation. His newly published book, the basis for his talk, is The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress and the Battle for the Great Society.
AS THE FEDERAL MINIMUM WAGE HAS DECLINED in real terms over the decades, state and local governments have increasingly taken the initiative to provide a wage floor for low-wage workers. Dube, who participated in groundbreaking case-study research establishing the low impact of minimum wage laws on overall and teen employment, argues that local minimum wages make sense beyond being stop-gap measures in the face of inaction in Washington, D.C. The cost of living varies widely in different localities, often resulting in low-wage workers being pushed deeper into poverty in areas where the median wage is higher. Even when the federal minimum wage is increased, he proposes that the nation’s minimum wages – plural – be pegged at half local-area median wages.
“Adequate state and local minimum wages play an important role in the antipoverty agenda and can compensate for inaction at the federal level. To ensure that wages sufficiently support the lowest-paid workers, I propose that state and local governments gauge their minimum wage to half the local-area median wage. In addition, I propose that states consider the local cost of living when establishing a minimum wage, and that the statutory minimum wage be automatically indexed to inflation to protect against real declines in the wage floor. Finally, I propose that local governments engage in regional wage setting to protect against the unintended consequences of raising the minimum wage.” – From “Designing Thoughtful Minimum Wage Policy at the State and Local Levels”
ARINDRAJIT DUBE is an Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in Bonn, Germany. He was a visiting faculty member in economics at MIT in 2014. His area of expertise is labor market policies, with an emphasis on low-wage workers. He has done extensive research on minimum wage laws, as well as research on other types of employer mandates, in particular the effects of minimum wage differentials across state borders where the minimum wage is higher on one side of the border than the other. He examined the borders of all of the states over a twenty year period, with a focus on the service industry, which employs the majority of minimum wage workers. According to his findings, both the short and long term effects of the increased wage on unemployment were negligible and that, moreover, a higher minimum wage helps service retailers attract and retain employees, increasing their productivity. His recent co-authored articles include “Early Responses to San Francisco’s Paid Sick Leave Policy” in the American Journal of Public Health and “Cross Border Spillover: US Gun Laws and Violence in Mexico” in the American Political Science Review.
TO THE EXTENT THAT THE PUBLIC ACKNOWLEDGES POVERTY as an “accident of birth” rather than the outcome of an individual’s choices or abilities, it is often demographic features – race, class, ethnicity, family background, parents’ marital status – that are foregrounded. David Brady’s work, however, points to what he argues is an even greater determinant of poverty: the “accident of birth” into a country with a greater or lesser commitment to supporting its citizens socially and economically. Among the world’s affluent nations, those where the welfare state has been and remains more robust exhibit lower levels of poverty. The variation is striking even when the example of the United States, exceptional in its high levels of poverty, is removed. In this talk, Brady questions the customary focus on demographics within nations to explain poverty, and shows that these explanations fall short from a comparative global perspective.
“What explains this tremendous variation in poverty across the affluent Western democracies? This question represents a serious challenge to any theory of poverty. Theories of poverty should be able to explain why some affluent Western democracies maintain substantial poverty and others are more egalitarian and accomplish low levels of poverty. Yet, the conventional approach in poverty studies is to analyze only the United States and to compare the characteristics of poor people (perhaps in poor neighborhoods) to nonpoor people. It is not an exaggeration to say that the vast majority of poverty studies explain why one group of people within a country are more likely to be poor, or why some individuals are poor while others are not. Thus, conventional poverty research stops short of confronting the enormous cross-national differences. In contrast, I contend that these cross-national and historical differences in poverty are principally driven by politics.” – From Rich Democracies, Poor People: How Politics Explain Poverty
David Brady is the Director of the “Inequality and Social Policy” research unit at the WZB Social Science Center in Berlin and an Adjunct Professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. Among his main fields of interest is poverty and inequality, in particular their causes, measurement and consequences. What explains the vast differences in poverty and inequality that exist across countries? In his 2009 book, Rich Democracies, Poor People: How Politics Explain Poverty, he analyzed how politics explain why poverty is so much higher in the US than in other affluent democracies. He also investigates the relationship of social policy to political economy, with a particular emphasis on understanding policy outcomes. Presently, he is studying whether rising immigration to affluent democracies is altering attitudes regarding social policy. With Linda Burton, he is editor of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of the Social Science of Poverty.
DRAWING FROM THE THEMES OF HIS BOOK, The Great Escape: Health, Wealth and the Origins of Inequality, Deaton examines the health of nations, and its relation to their wealth. Deaton describes vast innovations that enabled developed nations’ great escape from deprivation and disease, as well as the wrenching setbacks: the successes of antibiotics, pest control, vaccinations, and clean water on the one hand, and disastrous famines and the HIV/AIDS epidemic on the other. He examines the United States, a nation that has prospered but is today experiencing slower growth and increasing inequality. He also considers how economic growth in India and China has improved the lives of more than a billion people. Deaton argues that international aid has been ineffective and even harmful. He suggests alternative efforts – including reforming incentives to drug companies and lifting trade restrictions – that will allow the developing world to bring about its own Great Escape.
"LIFE IS BETTER NOW than at almost any time in history. More people are richer and fewer people live in dire poverty. Lives are longer and parents no longer routinely watch a quarter of their children die. Yet millions still experience the horrors of destitution and of premature death. The world is hugely unequal. Inequality is often a consequence of progress. Not everyone gets rich at the same time, and not everyone gets immediate access to the latest life-saving measures, whether access to clean water, to vaccines, or to new drugs for preventing heart disease. Inequalities in turn affect progress. This can be good; Indian children see what education can do and go to school too. It can be bad if the winners try to stop others from following them, pulling up the ladders behind them. The newly rich may use their wealth to influence politicians to restrict public education or health care that they themselves do not need." -- From The Great Escape
ANGUS DEATON is the Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of Economics and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Economics Department at Princeton University. He studies health, wellbeing, and economic development. His current research focuses on the determinants of health in rich and poor countries, as well as on the measurement of poverty in India and around the world. His latest book, The Great Escape: Health, Wealth and the Origins of Inequality, was one of the Bloomberg/Businessweek Best Books of 2013 and one of Forbes Magazine’s Best Books of 2013.
CHANGES TO IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT POLICIES and tactics have resulted in the expansion of deportation in the United States. However, little is known about the institutional dynamics and everyday enforcement practices that channel immigrants into the criminal justice system.
Drawing on two years of fieldwork in Nashville, Prof. Armenta offers an on-the-ground account of police behavior, the first actors connecting immigrants to the criminal justice system. Building on theories of institutional and color-blind racism, she identifies a system of “institutional nativism” – a set of policies and practices that work together to systematically detect, subordinate and expel noncitizens.
The unauthorized accrue additional disadvantage related to their alienage through three mechanisms: 1) the local police department’s mandate that officers create contact with residents via traffic enforcement, inevitably puts offers in contact with immigrants, some of whom are unauthorized; 2) state laws prohibit unauthorized residents from obtaining driver’s licenses and identification cards, increasing their risk of arrest by local police; and 3) immigration screenings at the local jail. Local police are largely blind to their participation in deportation and explain their behavior through a color-blind ideology. This color-blind ideology obscures and naturalizes how organizational practices and laws converge to systematically criminalize unauthorized Latino residents.
WHAT MAKES SOMEONE AN "AMERICAN"? Political theorists and political sociologists have emphasized "ethnic" and "civic" distinctions in national belonging, while scholars of immigration focus on boundary making around language, religion, citizenship status and race. In a presentation of ongoing work, Professor Bloemraad explores the contours of membership in the United States that emerged in interviews with 182 U.S.-born youth and their immigrant parents born in Mexico, China, and Vietnam. Despite a discourse portraying U.S. citizenship as a civic and political affiliation blind to ascriptive traits, many of those interviewed equate “being American” with racial majority status, affluence, and privilege.
Bloemraad argues that contemporary scholars of politics and immigration have not sufficiently explored economic notions of American-ness, which immigrants and their children can see as both a barrier to membership, but also a pathway to symbolic inclusion, notably for undocumented migrants. For many immigrants, membership through naturalization – the exemplar of citizenship by consent – does not overcome a lingering sense of outsider status. Perhaps surprisingly, birthright citizenship offers an egalitarian promise: it is a color-blind and class-blind path to membership.
These findings have implications for current political debates. Various politicians and public commentators seek to deny birthright citizenship to children born in the United States to undocumented or temporary migrants. Among their claims, critics of universal birthright citizenship contend that the practice flies in the face of liberal principles, in which both individuals and the state should consent to membership. From this perspective, citizenship through naturalization is valorized, since it rests on the affirmative choice of the immigrant and the clear consent of the state. This research suggests instead that the Citizenship Clause of Fourteenth Amendment provides constitutional legitimacy for the ideals of inclusion and equality, facilitating immigrant integration and communal membership through citizenship.
Irene Bloemraad is the Thomas Garden Barnes Chair of Canadian Studies and Associate Professor, Sociology, at the University of California, Berkeley. An internationally recognized expert on immigration, in January 2014 she was named a member of the U.S. National Research Council panel that will report on “Integration of Immigrants in U.S. Society.” Bloemraad’s work examines the intersection of immigration and politics, with emphasis on citizenship, immigrants’ political and civic participation, and multiculturalism.
Her research has appeared in top academic journals spanning the fields of sociology, political science, history and ethnic/ migration studies. Recent articles include “Is There a Trade-off Between Multiculturalism and Socio-Political Integration?” (co-authored with Matthew Wright) which appeared in Perspectives in Politics and won the “Best Article” award from the Migration and Citizenship section of the American Political Science Association in 2013. Bloemraad has authored or co-edited three books: Rallying for Immigrant Rights(2011), Civic Hopes and Political Realities (2008) and Becoming a Citizen: Incorporating Immigrants and Refugees in the United States and Canada (2006), which won an honorable mention for the best book from the American Sociological Association’s International Migration section.